WE BROKE UP (2021)

April 22, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. They’ve been together for 10 years, and when Doug proposes – seemingly spontaneously – to Lori, her reaction is ‘slightly’ askew from what he expected. The real question here is, how do two people have a 10 year romantic relationship and never once discuss marriage, kids, a house, or literally anything to do with their future? That’s the premise for the dramedy from writer director Jeff Rosenberg and co-writer Laura Jacqmin.

Aya Cash (“Fosse/Verdon” and a Jodie Whitaker lookalike) stars as Lori, longtime girlfriend of Doug, played by William Jackson Harper (MIDSOMMAR, 2019). If the proposal-gone-wrong and subsequent fallout weren’t uncomfortable enough, the timing couldn’t be much worse. Lori and Doug are scheduled to leave for her sister’s wedding, and both have roles in the wedding party … he’s “King of the Ushers”. Since staying away is not an option, the dilemma they face is whether to announce the break-up or pretend everything is fine until the vows are exchanged. They decide not to spoil the wedding and head off to Camp Arrowhead, the former summer camp site that the wedding couple selected for the ceremony.

Sarah Bolger (IN AMERICA, 2002) plays Bea, Lori’s betrothed sister. She’s been dating Jayson (Tony Cavalero, “School of Rock” TV series) for a whole month, and the two energetic free-spirits are total personality opposites from Lori and Doug. As mother of the two girls, Peri Gilpin (“Frasier”) is a tad less than supportive of her daughter’s spontaneous life decisions, while initially clueless to the difficulties faced by her stable and dependable daughter.

The film is well acted by the leads, but most of it feels like a missed opportunity to explore the psychological differences of the sisters or the effects of a long-term “comfortable” relationship with no eye towards the future. Both of the topics are begging for more in-depth coverage, and instead we are left with mostly predictable behavior. One couple that is too fast to the altar, while the other is too slow, presents a goldmine of opportunity. On the bright side, there are some small moments and subtle jokes and gags that are beautifully executed and work much better than the overall comedy efforts. Filmed at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, the film touches on anger and hurt and excitement, and all emotions attached to love and relationships.

In theaters and On Demand April 23, 2021

WATCH THE TRAILER


OCCUPY, TEXAS (2016)

April 17, 2016

Dallas International Film Festival 2016

occupy texas Greetings again from the darkness. Can you go home again? The answer is usually complicated and often a factor of one’s own choices. What’s clear is that those choices leave a wide range of emotions in the wake. Writer Gene Gallerano and director Jeff Barry share the story of Beau Baker, a young man who 7 years ago, walked away from his comfortable suburban lifestyle and a bright future as a lawyer.

When first we meet Beau, he is sleeping on the streets of New York … awakened by a gentle foot nudge from his Uncle Nolan (Reed Birney, VP on “House of Cards”). Beau reluctantly agrees to return home when he is informed that his parents have recently died in a car crash. See, after Beau left home, he joined the Occupy Wall Street movement, and just never returned home after the movement fizzled.

Once back in Texas, Beau is informed that he is the executor of his parent’s estate, as well as the legal guardian for his two teenage sisters … much to the dismay of his Type-A Aunt Uma (Peri Gilpin). 17 year old Claire (Lorelei Linklater, Boyhood) and 13 year old Arden (newcomer Catherine Elvir) have mixed reactions to the reappearance of a brother they barely ever knew. Claire is angry and bitter, while Arden takes to Beau’s carefree ways and avoidance of responsibility.

The film was shot in Dallas, and offers peeks at the historic Texas Theatre, the Margaret Hunt Bridge, and St. John’s school. There is also a glimpse of the cultural clash between New York and Dallas, and it’s provided through Beau’s wardrobe and speech. Whether he can fit in with old acquaintances (including his old girlfriend Nikki Moore), and kick his carefree lifestyle to become a true role model for his sisters is the core of the film.

Writer Gene Gallerano also stars as Beau Baker, and does a nice job walking the line between selfish slacker and grown-up. The road from homeless street person to legal guardian doesn’t come with a handbook, and Beau makes most every mistake possible. On the bright side, we can tell pretty early on where the character and story is headed and that it’s going to be a feel good story of redemption – and overcoming the challenges that family brings. There are a couple of other interesting characters courtesy of the rarely-seen-these-days Janine Turner (as a bored housewife drawn to Beau), and Paul Benjamin (as a wise and generous neighbor). The inconsistent sound mix doesn’t affect our connection to Beau and especially Arden (in a terrific first on screen performance from young Miss Elvir). We really want what’s left of this family to come together.

watch the trailer: